Effects of Hearing Loss on the Elderly

by Kyle Kivett | 11 July 2020

Chances are, someone you love has hearing loss. “Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing (3).”  Hearing loss results from many factors, including exposure to loud noises over time (such as machinery or loud music), ear wax build-up, diseases such as diabetes or high-blood pressure, or even just heredity.  Many people with hearing loss do not realize it or if they do, are afraid to admit it (2).  We can help those that we love to overcome the many effects of hearing loss by being educated on these issues and helping them. 

Having hearing loss can affect your social life by not being able to communicate, which can lead to loneliness and depression (1, 2). This will affect them for a long time through their family and their everyday life. “Depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses in the United States, affecting about 26 percent of adults.  Depression is technically a mental disorder, but it affects your physical health and well-being (5).” Depression results in a lower quality of life and general sadness, but it is also a contributor to a number of physical health issues, such as: Insomnia, risk of heart attack, lower immune system, and fatigue (5).  To help those with hearing loss to avoid depression, friends and family need to be patient with them and try to help them with their hearing problems.

Another problem some people may have as they get older and suffer hearing loss is them getting dementia. Dementia is a neuro-cognitive disorder with symptoms of memory loss that can affect everyday life (4). This affects people in many ways, because it can prevent them from doing normal things like shopping, taking their medicine correctly, and even basic household tasks.  It may make it difficult for them to communicate with their family. It will also affect their ability to think properly, communicate, and remember things. (1, 2) Ultimately, while most people die from complications related to Dementia, not the disease itself, it is eventually fatal because it results in a total deterioration of brain cells needed for human functioning (4). 

People who have these kinds of problems are also at higher risk for general personal safety concerns. For example, if someone who was hard of hearing was crossing the street and someone yelled to them to stop because there was a car, they may not be able to hear them. This would make it difficult for them to be able to react to the car coming towards them. This almost happened to my grandpa when he stepped out of our driveway and almost got hit by a car because he could not hear it. This really scared me and is one of the reasons why I am personally concerned about the effects of hearing loss on the elderly. Friends and family of those with hearing loss can help them by encouraging them to wear hearing aids and be more cautious in potentially hazardous situations (1).

We can help the ones we love to avoid the many bad effects of hearing loss by teaching them some good ways to cope with it. First, encourage them to seek medical help and get hearing aids. Next, encourage them to let those around them know that they have hearing loss and to tell people to face them while speaking clearly without shouting.  We can always take extra time to clarify if our loved ones understood what we said to them and not get frustrated with them if we have to repeat ourselves many times.  Just a few small actions can make a huge impact in the lives of the ones we love. It may even save their life.

 Works Cited

(1) “The Effects of Hearing Loss on the Elderly.” Healthy Aging. Published June 20, 2019. Accessed July 6, 2021.  www.aegisliving.com/resource-center/the-effects-of-hearing-loss-on-the-elderly.

(2) “Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults.” National Institute on Aging. Published November 20, 2018.  Accessed on July 9, 2021.  www.nia.nih.gov/health.

(3) “The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss.”  Accessed July 6, 2021. www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health.

(4) Brown, Ashley and Lisa Cooper.  “Can You Die from Dementia, and How Does it Kill You?” Published on November 2, 2020.  Accessed on July 11, 2021. www.betterhelp.com/advice/dimentia.

(5) “The Effect of Depression in Your Body.”  Published on September 11, 2017.  Accessed on July 11, 2021.  www.healthline.com/health/depression.

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